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We had a chance to evaluate Corona Del Mar of Newport Beach’s 36-0 running clock victory over Irvine on October 11 and Mission Oak of Tulare’s 21-14 victory over Tulare Western in a East Yosemite League showdown on Friday night. The victors are the two top ranked teams in the CIF Division III South Bowl Game Ratings and since we just saw both in the last three weeks, we decided to break down the squads by comparing and contrasting their units. Irvine and Tulare Western were about equal in talent level. This analysis could potentially be a preview of this year’s CIF SoCal Division III Regional Bowl Game.
Quarterbacks: Corona Del Mar’s Luke Napolitano is a future D1 quarterback. He’s 6-4 and strong, fairly athletic and takes command of CDM’s no-huddle offense. He throws a tight spiral and can really get the ball downfield. Mission Oak’s Trey McJunkin is only a sophomore and doesn’t nearly have the physical ability of Napolitano. He’s about 5-10, 170 pounds and in the win over Tulare Western, it was a negative play for the Hawks his first three pass attempts, including a fumbled snap on his first and an interception on his second. Mission Oak doesn’t go down the field much. ADVANTAGE: Corona Del Mar
Running Backs: Junior Cole Martin of CDM is a serviceable back who is a good runner in the open field. His back up, sophomore Anthony Battista, runs hard and can also get the job done. Obviously, the No. 1 ranked Sea Kings’ backs don’t have as much pressure on them because of Napolitano’s ability, but they are productive and capable of moving the chains if teams don’t respect their ability. No. 2 Mission Oak relies on its running game much more and for good reason. Senior Elijah Porchia is about as good a back you’re going to find at the state Division III level and he’s one of the best in the CIF Central Section. He’s around 5-10, 170 pounds and real elusive. He seemed like a finesse runner, but as the game wore on he got stronger. Porchia darts through holes and is especially effective around the edge where he can really turn the corner and break off big chunks of yardage. ADVANTAGE: Mission Oak
Offensive Line: CDM’s line is effective in its pass blocking schemes and has been working to improve its run blocking. CDM can get the tough yardage on the ground and the line has some quality size, including 6-foot-7, 235 pound left tackle Ian Redman. Right guard Brett Olson is the smallest at 6-1, 215 pounds. Mission Oak doesn’t have the same type of size, but junior right guard Matthew Willmore (6-1, 250) and right tackle Austin Willmore, a 6-2, 235 pound sophomore, wore down Tulare Western’s defensive linemen as the game wore on. The Hawks did have some trouble with its snaps in the shotgun formation and they are in shotgun quite a bit, so there is some improvement needed there. ADVANTAGE: Corona Del Mar
Offensive Ends: CDM likes to go to a four-wide set or can switch up to a two tight end formation. CDM has plenty of good-handed wideouts, but no one is a big, rangy target nor is any one what a defensive coordinator would consider a burner. Mission Oak doesn’t pass often but when they do they like hitches to junior Koby Tripp or Porchia. Mission Oak tight end Justin Abright (6-1, 220) is a major weapon. He’s a good seal blocker and has good hands when he does get the opportunity to catch the ball. ADVANTAGE: Even
Defensive Line: CDM uses a 4-4 alignment up front, while Mission Oak can go 3-4 or 4-3 depending on the situation. The Sea Kings don’t have a big line (RG Joe Anderson is the heaviest at 5-10, 224), but they all are fairly lean and in shape. LG Matt Flores is stout and strong against the run. The Hawks’ line is even a bit smaller with all three players in their 3-4 under 200 pounds. Senior LE Nick Lewis (5-10, 190) has a great motor and made some key plays in the win over Tulare Western, including a field goal block. He didn’t start, but senior Armon Hunter (6-1, 220) give the Hawks some size up front and is a good athlete from his LE position. ADVANTAGE: Even
Linebackers: CDM’s linebackers as a unit are aggressive, like contact and are versatile. Junior Hugh Crance (5-11, 180) is a hybrid that can cover like a safety and loves to go after the football. Junior Robby Hoffman (5-10, 170) is not big by any means, but he’s a good open field tackler. Mission Oak also has a sure tackler in Trent Reed (5-9, 180), who can go sideline-to-sideline to make plays. The Hawks did give up a lot of yardage up the middle and the backers could improve their cover skills downfield. ADVANTAGE: Corona Del Mar
Defensive Backs: The secondary for CDM are average tacklers and solid in pass coverage. They will finish the play, but don’t meet the ball and the receiver at the same time as much as they could. Mission Oak has solid coverage downfield and Porchia is the Hawks best cover corner. He’s a confident defensive player and his cousin, Paul Porchia (5-9, 165) does a good job manning the left corner position. It would be interesting to see how this unit would step up against a quarterback of Napolitano’s caliber. ADVANTAGE: Mission Oak
Since both teams have solid kickoff coverage and special teams, we think the difference between the two teams if they played tomorrow would be CDM’s overall size advantage and the ability of Napolitano. He’s a major factor and one of the CIF Southern Section’ best quarterbacks. He would put tremendous pressure on Mission Oak’s defense. There’s just less options you have offensively when you have a quarterback who can’t throw downfield as well and is a less-experienced sophomore to boot. The Hawks’ coaching staff wants McJunkin to execute the plays and not make mistakes, where CDM’s coaching staff knows its signal-caller can hurt defenses in many ways.
One factor that would favors Mission Oak in regional bowl game versus CDM is its ability to get a big play from its running game or on special teams from Elijah Porchia, junior Leandre Jefferson or Tripp. Mission Oak is capable of big plays, but it would have to demonstrate the ability to get stops against as good as a quarterback as they’ll see all season if the teams do indeed meet in the CIF SoCal Division III Bowl Game.